Sixers' tanking took a toll - was it worth it?

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Hornets' Cody Zeller blocks a shot by 76ers' Carl Landry during the first half Friday night.

In the end, the 76ers will have to ask themselves: Was the magnitude and longevity of "The Process" worth all this?

They finally secured the best chance to get the first overall draft selection in their third season of sacrificing wins to secure a top lottery pick, the key element in the process of dismantiling and rebuilding the franchise. They also manipulated their roster during that time to have enough salary-cap space to attract A-list free agents in the summer. And the Sixers have the assets needed to make trades that would instantly upgrade their roster.

They suffered a lot of pain, humiliation and a less-than-desirable place in NBA history to get to this point. And even the Sixers will tell you that there are no guarantees that "The Process" will bring an NBA title - let alone a contender - to Broad and Pattison.

What it did provide was one of the worst three-season runs in NBA history, along with the frustration and negative perception that comes with that.

The Sixers must win one of their remaining five games to avoid tying two futility marks. The worst record during an 82-game regular season is 9-73, set by the 1972-73 Sixers. The Dallas Mavericks were 46-200 over the 1991-92, '92-93, and '93-94 seasons for the worst three-year run in NBA history. The Sixers are 46-195 since they began "The Process" at the start of the 2013-14 season.

The Sixers have lost 12 straight and 25 of 26 games after Saturday's 115-102 setback to Indiana Pacers.

They've been much worse.

They lost 28 consecutive games from March 27, 2015, to Nov. 29 that year, to set the U.S. professional sports record. Eighteen of those losses came at the start of the season, tying the NBA record for a season-opening skid set by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets.

Their 26 straight losses during the 2013-14 season tied them with the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for second-longest losing streak in NBA history. And their 17 straight losses to open the 2014-15 season were tied with seven teams for the 24th-longest losing streak in NBA history.

The mounting losses affected the players - even though they wouldn't admit it until this season.

But it was obvious by the way it got the best of Michael Carter-Williams before he was traded the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 20, 2015.

Two of his biggest outbursts came in road losses to the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 13, 2014, and the Thunder on March 4, 2013.

Carter-Williams' frustration was visible in the second half of a 53-point drubbing by the Mavs. On one play, he did not get back on defense and coach Brett Brown yelled at him. The coach approached the player during a stoppage. The point guard appeared to point to the scoreboard as a way to say, "Coach, look at the score."

Brown walked away, and assistant coach Lloyd Pierce talked to Carter-Williams, who was playing his first game after offseason surgery on his right shoulder.

During a 33-point blowout in Oklahoma City in the 2013-14 season, Jeremy Lamb blew past Carter-Williams for an easy layup. Brown immediately got on his point guard. Carter-Williams, in turn, gestured back at his coach.

This season, Jahlil Okafor was involved in two well-publicized street fights in the early morning hours of Nov. 26 with hecklers in Boston, hours after the Sixers dropped to 0-16 after a loss to the Boston Celtics.

But sacrificing wins has been part of the team's plan since Sam Hinkie was hired as general manager in May 2013. The Sixers used the three seasons for player development, evaluating talent, and developing a culture. In the process, they kept losing enough games to secure a top pick.

The next phase of the rebuilding process begins this summer.

They'll have an NBA-best 25 percent chance to win the top spot during the draft lottery next month. They are guaranteed to finish no lower than fourth. The Sixers also will get first-round picks from the Miami Heat (21st overall of Saturday) and Oklahoma City Thunders (27th). And they'll get the Los Angeles Lakers' first-round pick if it falls out of the top three in the lottery.

In addition, the team plans to sign free agents and could use the Miami and Oklahoma City picks as assets in a trade.

The Sixers also hope to finally get the services of 2014 NBA draft acquisitions Joel Embiid and Dario Saric.

Embiid has yet to play after having right foot surgeries in each of the last two summers. Saric has to get out of his commitment with Anadolu Efes of the Turkish Basketball League this summer.

But there are no guarantees that Embiid or Saric will play or that the team's No. 1 pick will become a franchise-altering player. And it will take a couple of seasons before the A-list free agents view Philadelphia a desirable spot.

Until then, we won't really know if the magnitude and longevity of "The Process" was worth everything that comes with these futility marks.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.philly.com/deepsixer